“People always think that men have more cardiovascular disease than women,” said Gibbs, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the WVU School of Public Health.
“But what happens is that women generally have lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease before their childbearing years. Then, in their 20s and 40s, they’re more likely to develop it. hypertension and other risk factors increase in women compared with men, so they’re about to catch up. We think that may be, at least in part, due to exposure during pregnancy.”
She and her colleagues will equip more than 3,000 women with a special accelerometer that they will wear on their lap.
One accelerometer is a device that continuously measures the amount of time a person spends lying down, sitting, standing, stepping, or riding a bicycle.
The women would wear the accelerometer 24 hours a day, for a week. They will also be measured for four cardiovascular disease risk factors: BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose.
In addition, a small group of participants will undergo subclinical assessments of arterial stiffness and heart rate variability – functional measures of their cardiovascular health that may reveal Signs of heart disease begin long before symptoms occur.
The Link Between Pregnancy, Sedentary Behavior, and Disease Risk
Gibbs and her team will investigate any emerging associations in the participants’ pregnancy history, cardiovascular health, cardiovascular disease risk factors, and sedentary behavior.
Sedentary behavior including sitting while you drive, leaning back as you type on your laptop, lying down when you scroll through social media and many other daily activities.
“We don’t just think about exercise,” she says. “We’re thinking about sitting. We’re thinking about styles. How healthy are people who sit a lot but also move a lot? Are they okay? What about people who don’t exercise but don’t sit a lot? Are they okay? We’ll have the data so we can look at all these relationships very carefully.”
The researchers will choose their study participants out of 10,000 women in a larger pregnancy study – called NuMoM2b, or Pregnancy Outcomes Monitoring Study No Pregnancy – a decade ago.
Women who sign up for NuMoM2b are pregnant for the first time. The researchers gathered a wealth of data about their pregnancies 10 years ago, including diagnoses of adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Gibbs’ new project is the sequel to NuMoM2b. It was part of a national cohort survey, involving multiple institutions, known as NuMoM2b Cardiovascular Health Study.
By stacking data from the participants’ past pregnancies, current sitting and activity levels, and cardiovascular biomarkers, Gibbs and her team will be able to draw a picture. a more complete portrait of how sedentary behavior and adverse pregnancy outcomes affect women’s risk of cardiovascular disease as they approach middle age.
What they discover could help healthcare providers recommend healthy activity patterns and estimate women’s risk of cardiovascular disease more accurately. It may also help women with a history of adverse pregnancies use physical activity to reduce that risk.
“We are trying to find out whether therapeutic lifestyle interventions that reduce sitting, increase physical activity, or both can help reduce risk in women overall, but specifically in women are at high risk due to their pregnancy history,” says Gibbs.
Being sedentary is another cardiovascular disease risk factor than not getting enough exercise. And that’s true regardless of your gender or whether you’ve been pregnant.
In other words, if you spend your 12 waking hours sitting at your desk, on the couch, or in your car, you can’t ‘escape’ that long and sedentary period by going for a half-hour jog.
“I’ve done a lot of this research when we say to people, ‘Bring your work. We’ll make you sit all day at work and we’ll measure what happens,” says Gibbs. “And what we found is that, in people who sit for long periods of time, this negative cascade occurs. with cardiovascular disease, even in healthy people. Blood pool in the legs, blood pressure rises, and your body doesn’t metabolize blood sugar as well. Therefore, we recommend that everyone try to stand up for at least 15 minutes every hour. And if you can, take a two-minute walk just once every hour. Let’s find a way. ”